Nicholas Makris ’94, associate professor, Food & Beverage Management, is one of 50 faculty and staff mentors participating in the pilot year of the jwuGOLD Mentorship Program. This is an initiative spearheaded by the Our Approach committee within the Campus 2022 effort. Our Approach focuses on finding strategies that help identify diverse pathways for students to strive.
In reviewing national and university retention data, the committee identified first-year commuter students as a vulnerable, risk population. The committee recognized that creating a program connecting first-year commuter students to JWU in a meaningful way could positively impact student satisfaction, success and retention. jwuGOLD provides commuter students with individual attention during their first year through the support and guidance of a JWU employee mentor, and provides students with tools and resources to achieve personal and academic success.
“None of us would be where we are without the care, encouragement, and motivation of someone - past or present,” says Nick when asked why he chose to be a mentor. He continued to share that “providing support and vision to others is a way of reciprocating by conveying worth to your personal work.” Nick was paired with mentee Preston Araujo ’23, majoring in Culinary Arts. Prior to the matching process, Off-Campus Student Services sent a questionnaire to all students and mentors asking for information about hobbies, music, movies, etc. Although Nick’s mentee is not a student within the College of Hospitality Management, Nick’s love of cooking and all things food, including his experience working in the food industry, was a precursor to their pairing. “My mentee and I meet once a week,” Nick says. “We communicate almost daily via text.”
More than 45 incoming commuter students applied for the program, citing wanting a mentor who could help them adjust to college, provide guidance, and assist them with meeting their goals as reasons for joining the program. The mentor-mentee pairs met for the first time at the official kick-off event held on August 30, 2019.
Nick would encourage other faculty and staff to volunteer for jwuGOLD or other JWU campus experiences and programs because “they will serve as a resource to mentees while providing opportunities for individual growth.”